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Tesla crash probe finds driver behind wheel, how he changed seats still unclear

The US National Transportation Safety Board said in an investigative update that a man was behind the wheel and was applying the accelerator in the moments leading up to the fatal crash.
The NTSB said the damage to the steering wheel was due to an impact as the car had reached a speed of 67 miles per hour before crashing into the tree.(AP)
Published on Oct 21, 2021 10:46 PM IST
Byhindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

A man was driving the Tesla electric car which crashed and burned last April in Texas, killing two men inside the vehicle, federal accident investigators have found. Putting to rest the initial police reports that the car was on autopilot, the US National Transportation Safety Board said in an investigative update that a man was behind the wheel and was applying the accelerator in the moments leading up to the fatal crash.

First responders had found one man in the front passenger seat and another man in the back seat. But the preliminary findings of the investigation suggest that both the driver and the passenger were in the front seats when the Tesla car hit a drainage culvert, a raised manhole and a tree, and burst into flames.

The NTSB said the damage to the steering wheel was due to an impact as the car had reached a speed of 67 miles (107.83 kilometres) per hour before crashing into the tree. Though the agency said the crash is still under investigation, the preliminary findings effectively clear Tesla’s controversial Autopilot system which has been involved in dozens of other crashes.

“The NTSB continues to collect data to analyze the crash dynamics, postmortem toxicology test results, seat belt use, occupant egress, and electric vehicle fires,” the agency said.

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The fatal trip began from the Tesla owner’s residence which was near the end of a cul-de-sac. Investigators analysed the footage from the owner's home security camera which showed the man entering the driver’s seat and the passenger riding the shotgun. The report hasn’t clarified how the driver unbuckled the seat belt and changed seating positions.

The road did not have lines to define the travel lanes and no speed limit signs were posted in the crash area, even though the maximum speed limit for the road was 30 mph, according to the report.

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